Monday, March 5, 2012

More of Singapore for Pinoys

Alrightie folks! We have covered the things to see and do in Singapore and we realized we only need to visit yoursingapore for those, right? Even real-time rates and availabilities of various accommodation types are also in that website. Quite a complete affair, we can say! There are other little things though that are either not in there or may need to be highlighted for the Pinoy intending to visit Singapore. Let’s talk about some of them here. Ready? Here we go…

Going there. Of course you are not thinking of going there by boat or RORO, are you?! Hello Jose Rizal hehe! People nowadays go to Singapore from the Philippines via commercial air carriers – meaning airplanes. Even if we say Rizal went by boat. But as for now, and as of now, there are at least 4 places in the country where you can get direct flights to Singapore – that’s from Manila, Clark, Cebu and Davao. Which airlines? From Davao there are Tiger Airways 3X a week and SilkAir at 2X a week. Silk Air is the regional subsidiary of Singapore Airlines in case you didn’t know. From Clark you can have Cebu Pacific with a daily flight and SEAir with even 2 flights a day! From Cebu you have daily Cebu Pacific and SilkAir flights and almost daily on Tiger. And from Manila, there are too many via all above airlines (except SilkAir) plus PAL, AirPhil Express, JetStar, and Singapore Airlines, at various times of the day! So you have many direct choices!

As for getting around Singapore, we did that in the previous stories.

Oh, let’s touch a bit about Rizal. Did you know that Singapore was the first foreign country our national hero visited? Yeah, he was on his way to Spain, still as a prisoner after he was taken out of Dapitan. He toured Singapore mind you, in the few days that he was in transit! Eto pa… Did you know that while his ship was passing by Singapore from Madrid there was an attempt to rescue Rizal by using a legal means called the “writ of habeas corpus”? It didn’t work, thus, Rizal behind bars even inside a ship sailed on to Manila and after about 2 months at Fort Santiago, was executed in Luneta. So Singapore was both the first and last country he visited! One more thing on Rizal, he is considered in Singapore as “the Great Malayan whose writings led to a revolution that established the first republic in Asia”! And that recognition is at the green grassy gardens of their Asian Civilizations Museum – yep, near the old Cavenagh bridge malapit sa Fullerton. Don’t forget to visit that!

Speaking of personalities, in the 2011 run of “Star Creation”, someone from Cebu made it to the finalists circle. Star Creation is a contest for young budding fashion designers in Asia. A stepping stone towards being part of the Asian Fashion Exchange and eventual recognition in the industry. He is Mike August Yapching, a student at the University of San Carlos. A greenhorn really, still even very shy and rattles at appearing in front of an audience. But I got to talk to him lately and he confides that by having joined the contest, he has gathered contacts and prospects that some are now his clients. He is already carving his own niche, but says he cannot go full time yet since he is a still studying.

Still on people, you must have heard about Lucky Plaza, right? It’s a mall, a shopping complex probably the size and form of Farmer’s Plaza in Cubao. Its already been there the first time I stepped on Singapore in the late 80s. And it is in Orchard Road, the very middle of it in fact! The one unique thing about this place is that for whatever reason, it became the tambayan of many Pinoys living and working in Singapore. Going around the mall feels like you are just in Metro Manila. Virtually all floors have shops of many kinds that either cater to Pinoys or are Pinoy-owned! Name it, its there! There’s an LBC, a PNB and other remittance entities. Phones and simcards from Globe, Sun or Smart abound too! Cargo forwarders, internet cafes, restaurants, shops that sell kakanin, chicharon, komiks, magazines, dyaryo, knorr, maggi, longganisa, danggit, pyaya, otap, dried mangoes, SMB, SML, Red Horse, Tanduay, patis, suka, Silver Swan, Daut Puti, everything! One time, I even saw the delectable binagol from Leyte!

They do have a cute issue on the Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog hehe! I am serious! I hear that it has been something that Pinoys in SG always long to have, and the stores obliged to earn heftily. Everybody was happy! That, until.., Singapore retailers/producers whatever complained to the authorities that their local hotdogs were losing market because of our Purefoods Tender Juicy! So it has been banned from stores. In the open, you can only have them Purefoods hotdogs if someone from the Philippines brought a pack or two for you. Otherwise, you buy their local hotdogs – which many Pinoys don’t like. But where there’s a will… shhh wag maingay hehe, many of those stores esp at 3rd and 4th floors can still give you Purefoods, only that it will be for delivery to where you live or you pick them up somewhere at an agreed place and time! Hahaha, the lowly hotdog, ginawang ’underground commodity’! Ano yan, shabu?! Whaahehehe!

One more thing on Lucky Plaza. Some ’sosyal’ or ’pa-sosyal’ folks don’t like going there. Yeah yeah, some are even my friends! Not even near, ayaw nila! At first I asked if there were some kind of petty crimes happening like snatchers or mandurukut and the likes. None. Turns out, these folks just don’t like being around or being identified with their kababayans (who yes, are mostly domestic helpers). In short, mga “insek” (insecure ba)! I don’t subscribe to that mentality as I like talking to them DH even joining their banter by the stairs, by the flower boxes and by the sidewalks of Orchard. Masaya eh! There was even a time I went drinking with some DH and dudes from an acoustics band. Sus, bakit ba?! Here’s the deal, when one time I got asked by a friend “what do you really like being with those contract workers” (as if hindi sya contract worker eh dun sya work eh) my answer was “what do you really like wearing that yellow baler band and hikaw on the left ear anywhere you go”. Ayun tigil usapan! Peace ma mhan, peace!

So when in Singapore, nothing wrong with saying hi and hello to our kababayans hubbed at Lucky Plaza. Try Sundays! Fun to see proof that we Filipinos are regionalistic! You’ll notice folks congregate accordingly, like the Cebuanos will be in one corner, the Kapampangans over at another. Ang mga Ilongga ara lang sa may hagdan, an mga Waray adto liwat ha usa nga ligid! Naragsak ading, wuh! But it’s an informal aggrupation since many would keep crossing from one clique to another! Especially the guys, they’re seldom regionalized. More on samasama mga barako, naka-churva din ang mga vading, grupo din yun mga mahilig sa PSP, ganun din yun mga long-hair na me bigote and so on! Just note, not all who go to Lucky Plaza are domestic helpers. And its not all fun that they go there for. More than twice, I have seen someone crying and being consoled by those around her. Ganun!

There are famous or prominent Pinoy personalities in SG, but chances are you won’t even bump into them as they are probably busier with their job-related social lives even on a Sunday. So let us not anymore dream about them! Sorry nalang sila hehehe! As for the Pinoy visitor to Singapore, you should drop by Lucky Plaza at least once!

Enjoy Singapore!


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